The Economic Perspective: “Fair Trade Programs”

I’m Mary Walden, with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.   Today’s program looks at fair trade programs.  Mike, there’s an international movement begun 20 years ago designed to improve the economic conditions of lower paid workers, often in the agricultural sector.  It’s called Fair Trade, and products meeting the program’s standards will carry a certification label.  Is the program meeting its objectives?

  • There are now over 1400 Fair Trade organizations worldwide, with 1.6 million working members
  • The largest three are for coffee, tea, and cocoa
  • If a product carries a fair trade certification, means organization is complying with paying growers a certain amount – akin to a minimum wage
  • Often this translates the Fair Trade products being more costly than alternatives
  • Recent study shows program has lifted incomes of growers, but this has not spread to workers not directly in the program
  • I’m MW

Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.